The Dry Review

The Dry Review
7 10

PLOT: An Australian federal agent (Eric Bana) returns to his hometown, which is in the midst of a drought, to investigate the death of his childhood best friend. Ostensibly a murder-suicide, his investigation is complicated by the fact that, as a teen, he was once the prime suspect in the murder of a young woman - and many of the townsfolk are still convinced he’s guilty.

REVIEW: THE DRY marks Eric Bana’s first Australian film in years and, perhaps not surprisingly, this adaptation of Jane Harper’s well-regarded novel wound up becoming the biggest Australian hit of the year in 2020. It’s the 17th highest-grossing Australian film of all time. It’s a shame this isn’t getting a major big-screen release here as Robert Connolly’s moody thriller was clearly designed with the theatrical experience in mind.

In recent years, character-driven dramas have become quite rare on the big screen. Instead, they’re typically limited-run series like The Undoing, The Flight Attendant, and Bana’s own Dirty John. Maybe a decade ago they all would have been films. While the limited series aspect gives the characters more nuance, there’s something to be said for a solid two-hour one-and-done thriller. In that way, The Dry is pleasingly retro, with Bana having his best leading role in years as the tormented Agent Aaron Falk.

Connolly, who also wrote the screenplay with Harry Cripps, takes his time unfolding the thriller. The focus is just as much on Falk’s interactions with the people living in the fictional Kiewarra as on the crime itself, making the movie all the more atmospheric. If it has a failing its that it’s perhaps a little too reliant on flashbacks to show what happened in Falk’s youth, a style I’ve always found works better on the page than on film.

Nevertheless, the story is intriguing and Bana seems to relish sinking his teeth into this kind of role. It’s been quiet few years for him outside of Dirty John and it’s nice to see him back in a heroic leading part. I’ve always thought he was one of the best actors in the biz. The rest of the cast is similarly good, with The Road Warrior’s Bruce Spence showing up as the grieving father of Bana’s friend, while Genevieve O’Reilly is Bana’s love interest, another childhood friend of his and one of the few that believes he’s innocent. James Frecheville (from Animal Kingdom) is one of the rogue's gallery of suspects Bana has to work his way through, while John Polson, a noted Australian director (he did Swimfan and the Robert DeNiro thriller Hide and Seek) has a really good part as another friend of Bana’s, traumatized by a recent home invasion.

One of the most notable things about The Dry is the look, with it being shot in ultra-wide 2:35:1 by DP Stefan Duscio, who gives the movie an epic feel. Duscio, who also shot Leigh Whannel’s Upgrade and The Invisible Man, is the movie’s MVP, with the imagery here pretty stunning for a thriller - again - making one wish this was getting a wide theatrical release.

While low-key in some ways, The Dry is a solid little thriller and it's a shame more movies like this aren’t being made. There’s something to be said for these kinds of character-driven movies that do their job in two hours rather than eight episodes (I maintain that The Flight Attendant would have been a GREAT movie whether than just an OK show). I hope more movies like this get made, and fans of Bana and thrillers in general, should for sure check this out. I really enjoyed it.

Source: JoBlo.com

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